Will The New Transportation Plan Drive People Out of Downtown?

Audrey Thacker, the driving force behind the popular Artisan Markets, recently posted on her Facebook page:  "The moment you're ready to quit is usually the moment right before a miracle happens."
Which is what it's going to take to keep her arts event downtown.
Most people in Thacker's position probably would have thrown in the towel by now. But she's pressing on, even though after November 12th the city will no longer permit her event to be staged on the Marshall Way Bridge on Thursday evening Art Walks. The organization will continue operating on Sundays through December.
Thacker is appealing the city's decision that denied her a "special event" permit for both Thursdays and Sundays in 2016.
The political odds were against Thacker and her organization when gallery owners started bellyaching months ago that they shouldn't be forced to compete with Artisan Markets which has been operating with virtually no overhead expenses.  Let's face it:  The gallery owners and some of the downtown merchants who pushed Artisan Markets off the bridge have political sway ... and it showed. 
However ... the true test of the gallery owners' influence and the downtown merchants' clout at City Hall is coming soon.
Beginning early this year, the city's transportation department started working on an updated Transportation Master Plan.  The last plan was adopted in 2008.  Transportation Director Paul Basha recommends that the transportation plan be reviewed at least every five years.
The current draft plan has addressed several issues that have generated citizens' concerns - especially converting Scottsdale Road through the downtown area from four lanes to two.  That proposal has sparked a flurry of unfavorable feedback.
According to Basha, the purpose of the proposal to shrink Scottsdale Road is to reduce traffic and make the street more pedestrian-friendly.  From a traffic engineering perspective, that may make sense.  But Basha and his staff are finding that selling the concept to the community hasn't been easy. And it shouldn't be expected to change.  
So far, most residents who have reacted to the proposition are bewildered by such a radical suggestion.  And who can blame them - because many remember the giant "hole" that was created in Scottsdale Road 25 years ago to accommodate underground parking for the now defunct Galleria.  That was a traffic engineering experiment that turned into a costly embarrassment for the city. 
One of the chilliest receptions to the notion of narrowing our city's signature street has come from downtown merchants - and not just those with storefronts on Scottsdale Road.  For the most part, downtown businesses are already struggling within a perpetual state of paranoia about feeling as though the city is treating them like stepchildren.  Many also cite concerns about how reconfiguring the road would create lengthy and unpredictable disruptions to their businesses.
Basha has implied that the negative reaction to the proposal has been mostly driven by "a fear of the unknown."  In other words: change. 
If there's one group that can't stand change, it's gallery owners.